Cloud Gate


On Sunday morning I was reading Zebra Sounds, one of my favorite blogs that (for the most part) doesn’t involve news, politics or sports, when I came across a name I hadn’t seen in three years: Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

On Saturday, Judy Clement Wall (who writes the Zebra Sounds blog) posted a video called “The Beckoning of Lovely,” an ongoing film project by Rosenthal. (You can find the video by clicking here. It is worth watching. Bonus: It was filmed in Chicago near Cloud Gate, a.k.a., “The Bean.”) The next day, Judy unveiled her “amazing, wonderful, big fat fun idea,” based on Rosenthal’s film, to “make a bunch of stuff.” It’s an inspired idea, which you can read about in more detail by clicking here.

Anyway, when I came across Rosenthal’s name on Judy’s blog, something clicked in my head. I knew I had seen that name before. I walked into my den and removed a book from the bottom shelf of one of my bookcases. I was right — I have a book by Rosenthal: Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, which I was given as a Christmas gift in 2005 by my friend Rich, who is a regular reader of The Bread Line. I read the book shortly after I received it, but hadn’t thought about it since then — until now.

There really isn’t much of a point to this blog post except to say it’s amazing how connected the denizens of my little corner of the blogosphere are — even the ones who don’t know each other in any capacity beyond The Bread Line. Consider that Rosenthal is a Chicago author — local to Rich and I — yet Judy, who lives in California, knows of her and wrote about her film project. It seems Walt Disney was right — it is a small world, after all.

The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that an AFL-CIO pension fund may help pay for construction of the proposed Chicago Spire skyscraper.

More than $11 million worth of liens were filed against the project last October, halting construction on the proposed 2,000-foot-tall, twisting tower designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. The recession and down credit markets haven’t helped the situation.

The AFL-CIO obviously is getting involved to make sure the construction project is a 100 percent union job. That’s fine and dandy, but I’m more concerned about not having a giant hole measuring 76 feet deep and 110 feet wide at the Spire site for many years to come.

I’m not necessarily a fan of the Spire’s proposed height, but I think the design would be a nice addition to the Chicago skyline. It reminds me of a drill bit or a screw, which would give the Spire a unique look. Bearing in mind that Chicagoans took it upon themselves to unofficially (and affectionately) rename the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park “The Bean,” I foresee the Spire being referred to as “The Screw.” That nickname sort of has a Chicago-style ring to it, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I was reminded recently how pleasing Calatrava’s architectural work is to the eye. My wife and I spent last weekend in Milwaukee, where the lakefront jewel is Calatrava’s addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Quadracci Pavilion. The architecture is beautiful, evoking lakefront imagery such as boats, birds and a whale’s tail, depending on the viewpoint and the eye of the beholder.

I always make sure to visit the lakefront and see that museum whenever I am in Milwaukee. I hope someday the Spire will have the same effect on out-of-towners visiting Chicago.